(Amelichloa caudata, syn. Achnatherum caudatum)

Tussock of Espartillo, a weed in pastures and native grasslands

What is Espartillo?

  • Espartillo is a pasture weed and an environmental weed in native grasslands.
  • Espartillo is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of espartillo are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify Espartillo

  • Espartillo is a perennial (long-lived), tussock-forming grass that grows to 75 to 100 cm high. It is similar to native spear grasses and is not easy to identify, so that a new infestation of espartillo may only be recognised once it has reached a large size.
  • Espartillo leaves are sheath-like and tightly pressed to the stems, loosening as they grow upwards. The stiff leaf blades are strongly ribbed on both sides. The leaf blades have spikey tips, and to the open hand the plant feels spiny. There are no rhizomes (underground stems) and the root system is fibrous.
  • Espartilllo produces two types of seed. Normal (pollinated) seeds are formed from the brownish purple flowers at the ends of flowering stems; and hard, nut-like seeds at the base of the stems which are self-pollinated. Unlike the normal seeds, the nut-like stem seeds can remain dormant for variable periods.
  • Seeds germinate in autumn and seedlings grow slowly during winter. Flowering stems develop in spring and flowering occurs from late-spring through summer.
  • If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, or for further information or help in identifying Espartillo, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.

Espartillo, a tussock-forming grass. Infestation of Espartillo, a tussock-forming grass.
Image top: A tussock of Espartillo, © K Stewart, DPIPWE.
Image above left: Espartillo (Amelichloa caudata), © K Stewart, DPIPWE.
Image above right: Infestation of Espartillo, © K Stewart, DPIPWE.

Espartillo in Tasmania

  • The distribution of espartillo in Tasmania is relatively limited, with localised infestations on Flinders Island and around Brighton.
  • Espartillo occurs on disturbed soils and is found as a weed of roadsides, streambanks and neglected areas, from which it can invade run-down pastures. It can also invade native grasslands. Espartillo is unpalatable and heavy infestations can reduce pasture productivity.

What is the legal status of Espartillo in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with espartillo are laid out in the Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo.

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo to find out whether this weed occurs in your municipality.

Detailed management and control guidelines for espartillo can be found in the Espartillo Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Espartillo Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Herbicides for Espartillo Control
Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

Espartillo Control Guide

Spread of Espartillo

  • Espartillo is spread by seed. Espartillo seeds readily stick to wool and clothing.
  • Seed can also be spread by slashing and mowing, as well as in mud on hooves, footwear and vehicles and machinery.
  • Seed may also be spread in moving water.

Physical removal

  • Slashing and mowing is not effective as it can spread the hard, resistant stem-seeds.


  • Burning will remove above ground espartillo. However the hard, resistant stem-seeds can survive and remain dormant, and the espartillo can re-generate after burning.


  • Espartillo seedlings are sensitive to cultivation, but once established are difficult to eradicate.
  • Where practicable, repeated cultivation and winter cropping can control espartillo.


  • Control in pasture is more difficult.
  • Avoid heavy and continuous grazing which degrades useful pasture grasses.
  • Lighter stocking rates together with rotational or strip grazing can help maintain pasture competitiveness and reduced the espartillo.

Chemical control

Herbicides for Espartillo Control

Herbicides for Espartillo Control

Important Disclaimer
To the extent permitted by law, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.